Monday, December 6, 2010

On Letting Go

December 5 - Let go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (#Reverb10)

Back in August, as part of Bindu Wiles' 21.5.800 project, I wrote about my life as an ambivalent mother. I'm sure you don't remember this, as I never posted it. Why not? Because it's an intensely personal subject, and one that is not often discussed in public.

Mothers are supposed to be supportive, loving, kind, giving, and completely in love with the idea of being a mother. Because, you know, we chose to be mothers. Ok, some of us did. I did.

I'll tell you a little about ambivalent motherhood - it's tough, and it involves a lot of fake smiles and pretending. I can't explain why it happened, but I failed to have overjoyed feelings about being a mother. It's confusing, because the feeling has nothing to do with your child - oh, sure, I loved (still love) my son - but love staying home? Love changing diapers? Breastfeeding? Honestly, not much. I was not the pregnant woman who ran out and bought clothes and toys for my unborn child as soon as I discovered I was pregnant. I did not read up on all the hot new baby-rearing items. I did not decorate a nursery. I felt oddly distant. I never dreamt about having children, nor did I dream of this child. I had trouble even imagining what my life might be like.

It's very possible that my ambivalence stemmed from not having many friends with children, and then being completely isolated after my son was born.  Nonetheless, I was startled one day by an old friend who said,

"I know it's hard, but it's all worth it, right?" 

I stopped. I did not have an answer. Worth what? Obviously I had no choice. My son needed me. It just IS. I never assessed whether I enjoyed it, because it doesn't matter.

But, here's the thing: it DOES matter. I was not enjoying myself. I did not like myself.

As my son grew older and became more interactive, we started to have a lot more fun. There was this shadow hovering, my former self. My former (current?) ambivalence. So I chose to write about it.

Writing about the first 18 months of his life and about my pregnancy helped me let go of my ambivalence. I let go of my past, let go of the difficulties that led up to where I am now.

I'm not going to tell you that I'm one of those perfectly happy stay-at-home moms with a clean house, dinner on the table, and kids with perfectly organized routines. Because I'm not. And I never will be.

Love my New Ride (March 17)
March 2009 - Cute, silly, and loved. Really. Ambivalence toward motherhood is NOT ambivalence toward a child.


  1. People always expect all mothers to be glowing, happy, staring at their child and just be content that they have a chance to stay home. The truth is though that I don't think you are an exception, it's more likely that other women aren't that honest.

    I hated pregnancy. I was sick from the word go and the sickness stayed until I gave birth. I was hospitalised many times due to dehydration, when the kid was born I was exhausted, 5 stone lighter and close to a nervous breakdown. She then had severe reflux which was undiagnosed until 5 months. 5 months of sitting in the dark with a wailing, crying, screaming baby for hours on end. I hated breastfeeding but felt I had to do it because it's what you do. Postnatal depression raged. I loved my child but I hated my life. Most people don't get this.

    I congratulate those supermothers who are everything to everyone and never need a break, but I am not one of them.

  2. I LOVE this post. Your honesty is an inspiration and will, frankly, be more valuable to your son than unchecked exuberance would be.